Tim Büthe
Global Private Politics
Private actors, such as firms, NGOs, and professional associations, often interact across borders without being represented by governments or working through the traditional channels of international diplomacy.  These transnational activities are to a large extent governed—that is, made possible and constrained—by private rules, which often apply to many who had no part in writing them.  The establishment of these private rules constitutes what I call global private politics.
I argue that global private politics is distinct from traditional international politics and cannot be reduced to relationships of power among states.  Starting with "Governance through Private Authority?", I have therefore contributed to shifting the focus of the debate from whether private actors matter to how they matter in world politics.  Specifically, my work seeks to advance our understanding of global private politics by focusing on the sources of power and the role of institutions.
My research shows that private politics often follows a different logic because private actors pursue their own material, political, or other interests, which are at most partially defined by governments, and because private politics is conducted in distinct institutional settings, often as single-issue politics, restricting the kinds of issue linkages that characterize much of inter-state politics.
My work on global private politics spans three major research projects:
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< page last updated October 2009 >